Some of what we do as writers is take part in the world so that we will have bits to bite about. On Wednesday last, I got my face poked by a thousand needles (actually only 12) and could only think about telling the story.
I had a coupon. Oh, the things we do for coupons!
My car parked, I walked a block to find the acupuncture place. On a rejuvenated street of houses turned into eclectic shops, I walked through the wrought iron gates, down the long and wide, leaf-strewn walkway, and up the steps to my destination. The name, which has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent, was stenciled in small letters on the glass of the old-fashioned double doors. Lickety Split. Inside, the walls were covered with shelves, all full to overflowing with bits and jars and wee books and eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog–you get the reference.
The floor creaked as I walked to the counter and the older woman behind it. Friendly, she was, at least I think so. She kept muttering and smiling as she lifted and looked, finally finding a clip board.
“Fill this out, please.” She smiled and I looked for a chair. There were none. I stood and started to fill out the health history which was about ten pages. Partway through, I was led to a room in back where I could sit and finish. It took me 25 minutes! Now the people at this shop know more about me than my husband does. And it’s pretty boring.
Back came the woman to tell me she would be doing my facial acupuncture. Hmm. I wondered what kind of training she had, but up on the bed I went, closed my eyes and the session started. What issues did I have that I wanted her to work on? Well, that was a hard one. I’m not so much into a zillion creams and facial surgeries, etc. I remembered a couple of wrinkles at the top of my nose and the obvious lines on my cheeks. She went to work.
Yes, those microscopic needles hurt when they went in, but only for a second. After she had all twelve placed, and a pad covered with a stone over each eye, I could only hear what was happening. She fussed around for a bit and I realized how helpless I was with my purse hanging across the room on the door. She left. Voices beyond the door filtered in as someone else was having some other treatment. Obviously that woman wasn’t left alone. The minutes stretched and my lower back tightened. Why didn’t she put a pillow under my knees? Soon I had to bend my legs for relief.
I was getting drowsy but raising and lowering my knees every few minutes kept me from drifting off. How long was she going to leave me here? The voices outside the room stopped until I heard, “Oh, I almost fell asleep!” And laughing. “I’ll come every month,” she said. Silence again. Footsteps back and forth outside my door but no one came in. I tried to see out from under my rocks but only minute bits of light came in. Why didn’t I just lift them up? Uncharacteristically, I was doing what I was told. Something ticked near me, maybe a fan in a computer, certainly not a clock. Bent my legs again. How long had I been there?
Finally the footsteps outside came back in and my lady slipped the needles out and freed my eyes. She pulled a huge light over my face. My eyes closed. “Take a look” she said, “and see if you can see the difference.” In the glare I opened my eyes. And saw a stranger. Hair held back by a plastic band, face white and puffy in the lamp’s glare, I had a flash of fear. What had she done to me? Well, yes, the wrinkles did look improved, I said , as I fought the panic pangs. She took away the light and the mirror and I was left to get my stuff and meet her at the front. But she took the mirror! I couldn’t comb my hair or look at my face now that I was standing. Out to the counter I went.
A younger woman was working with a laptop on the counter. She gave me something to hold and I did. No explanation. “What is this?” I asked. “Oh, it’s checking all your information and assessing your body to see if you have issues.” The older lady piped in, “Now we’ll see if you’re as healthy as you think you are.” A few steps away a young man about 25-30 stood and watched. His smile was broad when I turned to him and I wondered what his job was there. After a couple more quite personal and somewhat embarrassing questions asked right in front of everyone, the results were in.
She told me I had 3 really critical issues and asked if I knew that. Oh, and by the way, they had creams and supplements to fix these things. I asked for a printout of my data. No, they DIDN’T HAVE A PRINTER! So I was just supposed to go on their word and buy the stuff, I guess. I left.
The first thing I did when I got in the car was check my face in the mirror. It looked pretty normal, and, yes, the wrinkle was smaller. How long would that last? As I drove away I realized how clever she was to give me the mirror only when I was lying down. Of course my face looked better than when I’m standing in my bathroom and all my wrinkles fall right into place!
Have you ever had a strange experience that you thought might show up in your writing some day? Consider leaving a comment to tell about it.